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Summit vs Conference: What’s the difference and is there free lunch?

In the late 90’s, I remember getting goosebumps while listening to the APhA-ASP incoming national president deliver her speech. After that, I was hooked. I realized that someone’s words, including how their articulate their ideas and their vision, have the power to change not only the vibe in the room, but also each individual listening.

Conferences also give us the opportunity to pick and choose which sessions we’d like to attend – very different from the rigid schedule we’re so used to. We should take advantage of any and all networking opportunities. We should also nap, as conferences can be exhausting. After attending many conferences over the years, I can summarize some of the best qualities from each:

· Minnesota’s Lyceum: Downtime scheduled in the agenda

· PQA’s Annual Meeting: Extra-long time for networking with drinks

· Any summit: Shortened sessions with interview-style dialogue

Different from traditional conferences, summits are usually one-time events with a very narrow focus. The speakers discuss a specific theme and the audience can expect high-level idea sharing for a target group of individuals.

Minnesota’s Lyceum conference was unique in more ways than just the name. In this format, a small group of individuals are invited to attend, everyone presents, and everyone enjoys the built-in downtime. It was low-key (presenters in slippers!), intimate, and so different that it made me want to experience it again.

PQA’s Annual Meeting historically has time built-in to the schedule for networking. It is so strongly encouraged and embraced that all of the big-name speakers take part. Small circles form quickly and it’s an opportunity to be introduced to many change-makers in healthcare.

I’m honored to be a presenter at Kimber Boothe’s upcoming Summit. I’ll be talking about the importance of networking for your career. If you can’t make it the on 13th, you can catch the recording! If this is your first summit, please register (it’s FREE) and I’d love to know what you think!

Surprisingly, the best part about each type of meeting is not the free lunch – it’s the thoughtful touches of the event organizers that actually cost much less.

Until next time,



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